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Several dead as gunmen storm Somali hotel

Published: July 13, 2019 11:24:43 | Updated: July 13, 2019 14:34:18


Reuters file photo used for representational purpose

At least seven people have been killed in an attack on a hotel in southern Somalia, including Canadian-Somali TV journalist Hodan Nalayeh, reports say.

Officials and survivors say a suicide bomber rammed a car containing explosives into the Asasey hotel in the port of Kismayo, and gunmen then stormed the building.

Nalayeh and her husband are among those reported to have been killed.

Islamist group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack, reports the BBC.

Regional politicians and clan elders were inside the hotel discussing an upcoming regional election at the time of the attack.

Witnesses said they heard gunfire inside the hotel soon after the car bomb went off.

It was not immediately clear in the aftermath whether the attackers were still in the building.

Local media outlets and a Somali journalists association said Nalayeh, 43, and her husband Farid were among those killed.

Integration TV - an English-language show created and presented by Nalayeh - told the BBC it had not yet confirmed the reports.

Nalayeh had used the programme to tell stories about life in Somalia and in the Somali diaspora. Recent episodes had focused on Somalia's inspiring female entrepreneurs and things to do in the city of Las Anod.

She moved to Canada with her family when she was six years old and went on to become a figurehead of the Somali community there. But the mother of two had recently returned to Somalia.

Canadian politician Andrea Horwath reacted to the reports of Nalayeh's death on Twitter, saying her "endless positivity and her love for people was inspiring".

BBC journalist Farhan Jimale described her as "a beautiful soul".

The Somali Journalists Syndicate said that Nalayeh and another reporter also killed in Kismayo, Mohamed Omar Sahal, were the first journalists to be killed in the country this year.

Militant group al-Shabab was driven out of Kismayo in 2012, and the port has been relatively peaceful in recent years - unlike many other places in southern and central Somalia.

The militants have been carrying out more frequent attacks in the capital Mogadishu, despite the heavy presence of African Union peacekeepers and US-trained Somali troops.

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